From the sports desk: When will sexism end in sports?


Sexism has plagued society for as long as anyone can remember, but there is no place more unequal for women than the sports world. Mention the idea of women’s sports, and the response you will most likely receive is “nobody cares about women’s sports.” Not only are women paid less than male athletes, they are also misrepresented on a broader scale. For instance, how many women sports analysts are on TV? I am not talking about the women who have to chase down players to get a post-game interview, I am talking about the actual analysts who break down the games at halftime. Anybody can stand on the sideline and ask athletes questions that were most likely written by a group of men, and then passed along to the female reporter – so why are women’s critiques of the game not welcomed?

Even in women’s sports, many of the analysts are men. If women are not “qualified” to speak about men’s sports, then why do men like Alexi Lalas appear on the U.S. Women’s Soccer halftime report? The 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament was the first time I had ever seen a female sports analyst on the halftime show; needless to say, I was stunned. Of course, it was a round-of-64 game that did not bust a thousand brackets, but it was a step in the right direction.

The most appalling event that occurred during the 2016 Women’s NCAA Tournament was that instead of covering the games, ESPN was covering WWE Raw. Wrestling is not even a sport, as the WWE is staged, in terms of creating storylines and already having the winner decided before the wrestlers enter the ring. How does anyone expect women’s sports to get more viewers when major sports networks cannot even give the games airtime? Women’s sports have the odds stacked against them, and, especially in 2016, this is unacceptable.

There has also been recent conversation about the U.S Women’s Soccer Team suing U.S. National Soccer for wage discrimination. The players involved include stars like Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, and they are suing because, although women’s soccer generated over $20 million more than the men’s team, the women are paid roughly a quarter of what the men make. How is it that a team that won the Women’s World Cup could be paid so much less because of their sex? How can the sports world degrade the talent of the women’s team when they are clearly the breadwinners? This, of course, is not the only instance of wage discrimination, nor is it limited to athletes, as women everywhere are fighting to be paid for the same amount as their male counterparts.

Not only is there wage discrimination, there is also image discrimination. How many times is Serena Williams going to be told that she looks like a man before we realize that only women are criticized for their body image? When was the last time you heard someone call Pablo Sandoval fat? This is because women are expected to not only live up to the athletic expectations of men, but are supposed to do so while maintaining their “feminine figure.”

If it is not a female athlete’s talent under fire, then criticizers turn to the “flaws” in her body image. Women are constantly being sexualized. Players like Abby Wambach have been criticized for their short hair in that they do not look as feminine as other players, such as Alex Morgan. It is also sad that even when someone does mention Alex Morgan, it is normally because of her looks, rather than her skills. I have never heard anyone mention LeBron James’ looks without first mentioning his basketball skills. This double standard of women being expected to look feminine as well as be talented players in order to earn any sort of status in a male-dominated sports world is blasphemy.

If anyone believes that this sexism does not occur outside of professional sports, they are wrong. These concepts can be easily applied to Saint Louis University Athletics. For instance, why does the men’s basketball team receive more coverage by FOX Midwest than the women’s? The women had a significantly better season than the men’s team, even getting a bid in the WNIT, yet they do not receive the same resources as the men’s team.

Also, why is it so much harder to get fans to attend women’s games compared to men’s? I don’t see the men’s soccer or basketball teams handbilling on West Pine in order to encourage people to attend their games. Of course they don’t, because female athletes have to encourage people to be attend their games because, remember, “nobody cares about women’s sports.”

It’s about time the sports world became equal. There is no reason why that in 2016, female athletes are paid significantly less than men. There is no defense for the criticism they receive based on body image. Sex should not be the deciding factor because, after all, the foundation that sports is built on consists of talent, skills and work ethic, yet the sports world is not holding to this standard.

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